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The Patent and Trademark Office TELEWORK’S — to the tune of 80% — how did they do it?

Telework — let’s be honest, it feels like we have been talking about it for years and it feels like scant progress is made each year. That may be true for many organizations, but for the Patent and Trademark Office, they are widely recognized as the telework leader across government. At PTO, more than 8,000 people are eligible to telework. Of those, more than 80 percent of them actually do it. And PTO has demonstrated real cost savings as a result of telework.

There are many reasons for the success of PTO’s telework program, but one of them is the person who leads the organization’s telework program, Danette Campbell. Her work at PTO — and her leadership across government, earned her a post as a finalist for the Service to America medals — the SAMMIES.

She told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINISDER about the successes PTO has demonstrated with its telework program.

“Telework started in the Patent and Trademark Office back in 1997 with 17 attorney’s. Now in 2012 7,253 people telework at least one day a week,” said Campbell.

How did they do it?

  • Measure success by deliverables, not presence
  • Clearly defined performance levels and expectations
  • Create an online community — host virtual coffees or get togethers
  • Solidify top tier executive support

“In the future we will need a leaner, meaner federal government that will need to reduce it’s real estate footprint. Telework is one of the ways to get it done,” said Campbell.

Are you a teleworker, telework manager, or just someone interested in telework? Join GovLoop’s Telework and Telework Managers group. And check out our Telework Calculator to find out how much you could save by teleworking.

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Profile Photo Doug Bourgeois

I was there when telework was in it’s infancy at the USPTO. I was the Chief Information Officer there at the time. The Telework program expanded significantly when I was there. I can say from first hand experience that the success factors listed in your post:

  • Measure success by deliverables, not presence
  • Clearly defined performance levels and expectations
  • Create an online community — host virtual coffees or get togethers
  • Solidify top tier executive support

are exactly right – with one exception. The executive support came from the top tier. While there was much more support in Trademarks for the first few years than with Patents, the support and desire came from the top. But the rest of the factors are right on. And the Patent execs eventually came around after seeing the success of the Trademarks program combined with advances in technology.

In short, the leadership was there to make this program happen and to make it work.

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Profile Photo Chris Cairns

Well they certainly have the key factors in place for enabling a productive tele-workforce. Given that the USPTO is about 10k employees, having 8k eligible is pretty good.

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